is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
The problem with the record industry is not piracy, it’s that its primary product — the compact disc — has been completely devalued. There are some pretty convincing arguments for this that the RIAA obstinately refuses to acknowledge: principally, that the cost of CD’s is out of proportion with both recent inflationary history and the cost of competitive entertainment media like, specifically, DVD’s.I’ve been thinking lately that there’s one more argument that is not as widely acknowledged though: the CD as a physical format (that is, any kind of CD, whether audio, CD-R, CD-RW etc.) is now so commonplace a commodity that it’s virtually impossible for consumers to continue to place any kind of value on it. You can find CD’s everywhere; in milk crates at the flea market, on blankets spread on the sidewalk by street vendors, in hundred packs at CompUSA, stuffed inside your mailbox courtesy of AOL. I’d be willing to bet that more miscellaneous CD’s pass through a consumer’s hands in a single day than vinyl records would have in a single month during that format’s golden age.
To me it’s pretty apparent that the entire business model is boat with a swiss cheese hull, and no amount of persecuting individual consumers will repair that. Basically, the music business needs to get into a new business.+